Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Loverly “Lady” waltzes into Village Theatre

Allison Standley, Priscilla Hake Lauris, Mark Anders in My Fair Lady (Tracy Martin)
My Fair Lady
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through January 3, 2016, Everett: 1/8-31/16

Allison Standley has not, until now, been cast as the lead in a local musical, though she won a Gypsy Rose Lee Award for her Supporting Role in Wild Party by Sound Theatre Company in 2013. Now, you can see her triumphantly starring as Eliza Doolittle in Village Theatre’s My Fair Lady. Her foil is Mark Anders, who inhabits Professor Higgins indubitably, and cutely and annoyingly throws tantrums when he’s frustrated, which makes the character a bit more human.

Standley does Eliza justice, most particularly in the spectacular, iconic songs she sings once she arrives at Higgins’ estate. She could use a bit more distinct diction in the more difficult to understand beginning songs, though her acting throughout is lively and alive.

In case you don’t know the basic story, a recap. An upper class British phoneticist bumps into a lower class flower girl and bets a friend that he can turn her into a princess in six months. Through tribulation and struggle, eventually the flower girl goes to a great ball and charms everyone. In the process, do the professor and the flower girl fall in love? Only the slippers know.

The costumes Cynthia Savage cloaks everyone in are sumptuous to behold. They are so fun that the audience’s reaction to the opening curtain is often to applaud! The one shortcoming though is the moment when Eliza appears dressed for the ball – with swoopy embellishments that veer away from the desired bombshell look, just a bit.

The rest of the talent is so good that you just feel you’re in the right hands, relaxing into the show like a familiar pillow. The ensemble is clearly having fun, which makes everything look loverly.

Gretchen Krich bustles about ordering the Higgins manse with dispatch as Mrs. Pearce, the housekeeper. John Patrick Lowrie lays the rascal father Alfred P. Doolittle on thick and fun. Randy Scholz sings gorgeously as the lovesick, silly Freddie. Dan Kremers is exactly on point as Col. Pickering, with gentle manners and gusto for the bet. Andrew Eric Davison has several little roles, but his bass role in the quartet stands out.

The most delicious small-role moments were from Priscilla Hake Lauris as Mama Higgins. Her slow takes and properly gentile asides were hysterical. The only moment that fell short was her last, where it was clear that director Brian Yorkey inserted a few too many “jokey” jokes (an unfortunately long telephone cord was another). Aside from overdoing the physical comedy a bit, Yorkey’s choices were generally sound.

Kathryn van Meter’s choreography was absolutely spot on. The stiff-upper-lip Britishism translated into the dancing with precise movements and simultaneous head turns. Bill Forrester’s set is sometimes a bit flat, but pretty. The basic drawing room set is lovely, with a long curving stair and plentiful doors to pop in and out of.

This is a jolly good time, though be aware it’s a jolly good long time, clocking in at just under three hours. If you really want to spend time away from home, this is just the ticket! Also, perfect for the holidays and great for all but the very youngest ages.

For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-392-2202.